Bunker - Fundamentals Pocketshots

Bunker play can be considered to be a difficult part of golf for most amateurs, but watch the pros from a greenside bunker and you can see that, unless they have a very difficult lie, escaping from a bunker is not difficult and indeed many top players find it easier to control the ball from sand than they do from thick greenside rough. It's all about the technique; and it is not difficult. In fact it's very easy if you follow Mark Holland's advice.

Apart from an outstanding coaching background, Mark also brings you his perspective as a player where he was a successful amateur and a touring professional for several years. Mark is currently Head Coach to the Australian Golf Union and the Golf Australia Elite Program and prior to this was Head Coach of the Australian Institute of Sport Golf Program. As a PGA AAA Golf Coach & Instructor Mark has experience of coaching players of all levels and in this Pocketshot he shares with you not only the fundamentals of good bunker technique but some brilliant exercises and drills that will improve your bunker play considerably. Here are just a few of his bunker play tips:


Bunker Play - The Right Technique Works With Almost Any Club!Golf club and yellow golf ball in sand

Remember with the right technique you can get a ball out of the bunker with almost anything!

In this picture you can see that I am actually using a sand iron with the back cut out of the club. That means the only way I can get the ball out of the bunker is to use the force of the sand to drive the ball up and out of the bunker. A lot of players are guilty of trying to use the club to lift it out; clearly in this situation that is impossible. 

You have to splash down into and through the sand forcing the sand up in a manner which takes the ball with it.

Man showing how to hold a golf club with dark trousersRemember to move the sand and you will move the ball!

Mark Holland hits a golf ball in sand

 Bunker Play Setup Basics - Grip Variations

One variation worth experimenting with is to try the “Butterfly” grip for downhill lies. Simply rotate both hands toward each other approx 15 – 20 degrees. This will increase the dynamic loft of the club, it will also accentuate the bounce of the sole and allow earlier hinging of the wrists which will increase your angle of attack.

Man with hands spread out and interlocking thumbsThis will help you to strike down at speed close to the ball with a steepened angle of attack, all of which will help with height and spin on a downhill lie.

The position of the right elbow is key to getting this right. Even though the right hand is rotated inwards you need to avoid any such rotation of the right forearm and shoulder.